Old MacDonald may have had a farm with a dog, cows and some chickens, but he also had something far more important to keeping said farm running—a daughter. At least according to Land O’Lakes’ “She-I-O,” a reimagined (albeit slightly hokey) version of the classic children’s nursery rhyme sung by country artist Maggie Rose.
The aim of it is to honor the oftentimes invisible female farmers who help feed America. This comes ahead of Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 26) and sends out a critical message: the successful, old, fictionalized farmer MacDonald doesn’t have to be a man.
“She-I-O” debuts with a full music video featuring Maggie Rose and several real female farmers, kicking off a larger campaign, “All Together Better,” from Land O’Lakes, which leaned on a predominantly female team at The Martin Agency to create. The campaign also intends to position Land O’Lakes as the member-owned agricultural cooperative it is, not just the consumer-facing brand of cheeses and butter.
The stars of the music video are members of Land O’Lakes’ cooperative of 1,791 farmers, many of whom the company said are women. In fact, the company said 30 percent of all U.S. farmers are female (like the ones shown in the video waking up at the ass crack of dawn to start work).
Grammy Award-winning songwriter Liz Rose—whose credits appear on various country hits including Taylor Swift’s “Fearless,” Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” Carrie Underwood’s “Cry Pretty” and Kenny Chesney’s “Better Boat”—collaborated on “She-I-O.” The video (below) was directed by female powerhouse duo Charlotte Fassler and Dani Girdwood of Similar But Different.
“I’m passionate about the message at the forefront of ‘She-I-O,’ which celebrates the power of inclusivity and the role women play in modern farming,” Maggie Rose said in a statement. “My husband’s family owns a cattle ranch in Missouri, so I’ve had a glimpse into what goes into putting food on our tables. Like so many of us, I grew up singing ‘Old MacDonald.’ Where you hear lines ‘on his farm’ and ‘he had a cow,’ it’s nice to finally add in the other half of the population.”
Anne Marie Hite, senior vice president and creative director at The Martin Agency, noted to Adweek that during briefing sessions with the songwriters, one of the first things to come out of Liz Rose’s mouth was, “Oh my god, MacDonald had a daughter.”
“It became the basis for the whole song,” Hite said, adding that both Liz Rose and Maggie Rose (no relation) were immediately identified as the “perfect” songwriting duo for the project.
“A lot of people picture farmers as men,” Hite said. When The Martin Agency got the call from Land O’Lakes to work on this campaign, she said this “brilliant idea” was sparked to rewrite “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” as “a modern-day, badass female anthem.”
The campaign breaks just one month after Land O’Lakes appointed Beth Ford as its new CEO, where she makes history as the first openly gay woman to sit at the helm of a Fortune 500 company.
Anna Squibb, senior manager of integrated marketing at Land O’Lakes’ Dairy Food Retail division, said it was inspiring to see everyone involved in the campaign “pour their hearts and soul into it”—even the female farmers in the company’s co-op.
“Our farmer members are the most cooperative and easy-to-work-with people,” Squibb added. “They were a little apprehensive at first but when we proposed the idea to have them in the video, they were open to it. … We’re so passionate about sharing their stories.”
According to Hite, the farmers were quite taken aback when the agency showed up with a film crew of 60 members, as they thought there would be five people at most. “They were like, ‘What did we sign up for?'” she said with a laugh.
“She-I-O” debuted on SoundCloud on Tuesday and will be made available on iTunes beginning Friday. The “All Together Better” campaign includes 30- and 60-second TV spots, print executions and “custom digital content,” according to a statement from Land O’Lakes and The Martin Agency.
Land O’Lakes partnered with hunger relief organization Feeding America on the campaign. For every like, share or comment the “She-I-O” video or music track garners on social media, SoundCloud and iTunes, the Land O’Lakes Foundation will donate $1 to Feeding America, capping it at $100,000. Hashtag #AllTogetherBetter is being distributed to help spread the word.
The last component to the campaign is a three-part digital documentary series called “In Their Words,” produced by the Female Farmer Project, that chronicles the personal stories of some of Land O’Lakes’ farmers. Below are the spotlights of Lori, Candice and Amanda (the farmers featured in the music video).